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Environmental damage in Rhine averted

Up to 10,000 litres of heating oil that spilled into the River Rhine near Basel have caused no damage to the environment, according to a Swiss official.

Peter Sauter, of Basel's Rhine Shipping Authority, said an international environmental alarm issued after Friday's accident on the river was no longer valid. The Rhine flows through Germany, France and the Netherlands before reaching the North Sea.

Sauter said that the amount of oil that was spilled after the accident in the nearby river harbour of Kleinhuening, was too little to cause any damage. "There is no risk of pollution or of harm to fish in the river," he said.

Swiss police said the spillage occurred while the Dutch-registered barge Discovery was pumping oil into a tank beside the river.

A Belgian cargo ship passed too close to the riverbank, creating a large wave that subsequently pushed the Discovery a few metres away, and ruptured a pipeline used for the oil transfer.

swissinfo and agencies